A few weeks ago a friend and I tore ourselves away from the thrill ride that is legal scholarship to check out the new(-ish) movie version of The Mortal Instruments. (Sidebar – I just realized that we have never reviewed this series, which is weird since we’ve all read at least some of them. We’ll put it on the to-do list. I know you’re clamoring for our opinions on all things YA fantasy.) The usual spoiler alerts apply.
I was hoping this movie would be good because the books lend themselves to the screen, but I had heard that it was mediocre at best, so I both braced myself and girded my loins for disappointment. The critics were right. This was not life-changing cinema. Some things were good – I thought that Simon was perfectly cast, and Clary fit the description, too, although she looked very different from my imaginary Clary. HOWEVER. Casting FAIL for Jace and Valentine. Jace was too old and he didn’t have the right swagger and he’s not exactly the panty-dropper that Cassandra Clare described. Maybe this is all just personal taste, but I was not buying it. VALENTINE, though. Jonathan Rhys-Myers will always have a special place in my heart due to his role in the seminal film Bend it Like Beckham, but he is not right for this part. For starters, he is only ten years older than the kid who plays Jace, and since both of them look their age, it was not believable at all that they would be father-son. But what I really want to talk about is the look. The hair, the makeup, the costuming – it’s like they were trying to make him into a Mortal Instruments Jack Sparrow, but something went horribly awry. The lesson here is that you can’t even be a good imitation of Johnny Depp. Johnny is a special snowflake swathed in scarves, and it’s pointless to think that other people can achieve the Johnny Depp-ness of it all. JRM’s PR people are good, too, because I can’t get the internet to cough up a decent picture of this travesty. Picture Jack Sparrow, but settle for JRM. There’s a weird braid-ponytail weave at the back of his head. Leather vest, no shirt. Leather pants. (All of the Shadowhunters dress almost exclusively in leather, and no one made ANY jokes about it. Missed opportunity.) Kohl around the eyes. Addled in the head. You get the idea. If I hadn’t already been choking back laughter after the Clary/Jace kiss, this would have been the trigger. And speaking of said kiss, we should discuss it. The setting: a weird CGI rooftop garden. I can let this setting slide because I know they need to spend their special effects money elsewhere for this movie, but there is no excuse for the score and the love song. I have tried to think of a good analogy or a witty quip, and my vocabulary fails me. I can’t do it justice, so instead I’ve provided a link so that you can experience the scene and accompanying music in all its glory.
Someone wrote this song for a 90s teen movie, surely. I can’t think of another reason that we would have this epic piece of music.
Overall, I will say that this movie is worth it for the unintended laughs, but if you want a legitimately good movie, you will want to steer clear. This would be perfect for airplane-viewing.